Dereham’s Neatherd Moor achieves County Wildlife Site status

NWT conservation officer Helen Baczkowska starts the biodiversity survey on Neatherd Moor. Picture: Matthew Usher. NWT conservation officer Helen Baczkowska starts the biodiversity survey on Neatherd Moor. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Saturday, December 21, 2013
6:30 AM

A popular beauty spot in Dereham has been listed among the most valuable nature habitats in Norfolk after becoming designated as a County Wildlife Site (CWS).

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Neatherd Moor, a well-used public “green lung” for the town, was assessed for its biodiversity value earlier this year by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

The survey report describes the area as a “complex site” with a “mosaic of neutral, acidic and marshy grassland, with two areas of woodland, some recent tree-planting, old hedges and ponds.

It says: “Two areas of grassland – Clarke’s Meadow and the adjacent meadow – are species-rich and great crested newts have been recorded on the site in the recent past.”

Although the survey focused on the area’s plant life, conservationists believe the variety of species found would make Neatherd Moor an ideal nesting, feeding and breeding ground for many insects, mammals and birds.

Helen Baczkowska, conservation officer for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “I think one of the first things that struck me was the sheer size of the place. It is a really big area that is relatively undisturbed, and to have that so close to the town centre is great, so people and wildlife can both enjoy it together.

“There is a lot of grassland and a lot of twayblade and common spotted orchids, which are not as common as they used to be, and really nice things to have.

“If you have got this variety of wild plants and a variety of habitats then you can be fairly sure you will have loads of insect life and all the small mammals and hunting birds that live off them. I imagine it is a wonderful place for spotting hunting birds.

“It would be great if the people who use the site can help us to record the insects and birds. If anybody is interested in finding out more, they could speak to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and we can have a chat with them.”

There are nearly 1,300 CWSs in Norfolk, most of which are privately-owned and have no public access.

While they do not receive statutory protection, CWSs are given some protection through the planning system, with NWT playing a key role in advising planning authorities, developers and others on their management.

Deputy Dereham mayor Tim Birt said: “This designation is recognising the fact that we have got a quality open space here with some fantastic biodiversity.

“It is great news, but there does not seem to be any money that comes with this to manage it, so we need to make sure we carry on. It gives us the opportunities to approach different sources of funding, and I am sure that they will develop in the future. Hopefully it can draw in some funding to do more on that special bit of land.”

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